By Anita Flores
A man kissed my hand last night on the subway. It sounds kind of romantic, if I don’t give any details, but the thing is, it wasn’t. I was standing up, grabbing the subway pole with my hand. Meanwhile, an extremely drunk man was sitting down, watching my friends and me with a drunken look. I knew he would do something, and I assumed he would try to strike up a conversation.
When it comes to cat calling and street harassment, I consider myself lucky. I’ve never had a man expose himself to me, or grab me. But last night, this drunk man leaned over and kissed my fingers. He looked at me, pleased. I, along with my two friends, was taken aback. There was a pause, a moment when I decided I had to speak up. It was less of a moment and more of a kind of anger that boiled up inside of me. The kind of anger that comes from years of street harassment and never saying anything about it. So, I raised my voice and had the following exchange.
Me: What the fuck did you just do?
Perv (laughing): I’m sorry, I couldn’t control myself.
Me: You could’ve. You could’ve not leaned over and kissed my hand. How would you feel if a stranger did that to you?
Perv: I would be flattered if someone kissed my hand.
Me: What if a man you didn’t know kissed your hand?
Perv: Oh, not a man. But you’re a woman, it’s different.
Me: Why is it different?
Perv: Because the chemistry is different.
Me: What the fuck are you talking about? No, it isn’t. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. You have no right to touch me, and I did not give you permission to touch me. The only way you could understand how I feel right now was if a strange man came over and kissed your hand right now.
At this point, I have the attention of a crowded train. Teenage boys stare in awe. The perv looks around, embarrassed.
Perv (smiles drunkenly): Okay, have a nice day.
He exits the train, moving to the next subway car.
Me: Does ANYONE have Purell?
A woman actually hands me Purell.
The teenage boys are looking at me now, giggling.
Me: Do you think I was right to be so angry? Wasn’t I? Wasn’t that disgusting what he did?
They stutter a bit, but they answer.
Teenage boys: Yes. You’re right, it was gross.
Another woman comes over.
Woman: That was amazing. Good for you for speaking up. I’ve never said anything before.
Me: Well, if that happens to you, do the same fucking thing I just did, okay?
Woman: I will.
Do I think the pervert learned his lesson? No, but I do think he might think twice about touching a woman next time because I shamed him off the goddamn train. I realize now that my voice is my strongest weapon. I have the power to be heard, and I have the power to tell someone what they can and cannot do to me. I also have the power to inspire other women to speak up. Ladies, WE ALL HAVE THAT POWER. Speak the fuck up. Were Channing Tatum’s words still ringing in my ears having JUST seen Magic Mike XXL? Yes, yes they were. I will leave you with that quote.
“My God is a woman.”
This post appeared first on Anita’s blog. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter too.
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